Real Profiles of Rheumatoid ArthritisPhotos © Nan Hart
Rutland, Vermont, United States
How long have you lived with RA?
15 years diagnosed.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
First of all, be glad that the pain and suffering now has been diagnosed as most of us with RA wait a long time to have it diagnosed and that is tough enough!
Secondly, understand that there are treatments and strategies for managing RA that will allow you to live a joyful, productive life if you commit to what needs to happen and utilize all the tools available.
Third, seek support and comfort and guidance from your “team” which should include your medical folks, family and friends and any support or online RA research and support groups you can find!
Do you use any mobility aids?
Just the standard neoprene braces now and then.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
As cliche as it sounds, I have a much deeper appreciation for EVERYTHING from nature to my family to the simplest pleasures in life.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
I have some nodules, but not many and my wrists are a bit mishappen….otherwise very little.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
A good cry now and then is really helpful even though I try sometimes to bury it. I have found that “letting go ” (in an appropriate place -not the grocery store for instance ;-)) provides a huge emotional release. I also really love guided imagery which allows me to fully relax and meditate. Very useful.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
Medication wise I am on methotrexate, low dose medrol, celebrex, remicade (but switching to Simponi next month as the remicade is failing).
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
Throughout this journey I have found great support and relief in continuing my work as the Director of three elder service programs where I have had the amazingly good fortune to develop programming for our community. I also serve on a number of boards, including our New England Regional Arthritis Foundation Advisory Council. I have found that participating in other organizations is very rewarding. I also volunteer at the Court Diversion program which works with first time offenders to find an alternative to incarceration.
I love to read, I an avid swimmer, I love Zumba. Most of all I love spending time with my family – my husband of 34 years, my three sons, my brother and my Dad and my friends and co-workers who are a priceless source of comfort, love and support.
I just started an RA Support Group for our region which has not had one for over 20 years, so I am excited for that to take off. We have had two meetings and the numbers are growing! We are on Facebook – the link is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rheumatoid-Arthritis-Support-Group-Rutland-Region/202315596455903.
Finally, I have blog I started a couple of months ago and I would love folks to check it out and let me know their thoughts on the topic and/or suggestions to make it better. the link is http://livingwithra-nan.blogspot.com/.